Tom’s Garden

Growing by the Bay

Author: xensen (Page 18 of 19)

Troubles Continue for SF Chronicle

A few years ago when San Francisco’s afternoon paper, the Examiner, merged with the morning paper, the Chronicle, readers were promised a paper that would be greater than ever, with a larger staff and more investigative reporting and original news coverage than ever before. That never happened, and the new paper was a disappointment from the beginning. (I cancelled my subscription early in 2003 in objection to the paper’s editorial perspective.)

The new Chronicle never seemed to formulate and implement a viable and consistent vision. Now, in an “emergency meeting,” it is said to have warned of more in its seemingly never-ending series of layoffs.

Is there hope for daily print media in San Francisco?

Related:

Pelican Redux

santa cruz pelicanBy popular request, here’s another (clickable) view of our grave feathered friend.

Pelican at Santa Cruz Boardwalk

pelicanOkay, I’ll admit it, I’ve been a little lazy about posting here the past few days. I’ll have more to say about the Santa Cruz boardwalk later on. For now I’ll just let this image speak for itself (I think it might be saying “Hey, buddy, where’s the fish?”). Click the photo for a larger view.

Summer 2007 Art Exhibitions in the San Francisco Bay Area

I’ve moved this post to a static html page because it wasn’t formatting properly here.  The new location for the summary of 2007 art exhibitions in the San Francisco Bay Area is here.

Golden Gate Park Windmill

windmill in golden gate park, san franciscoI don’t think I have an image of the Murphy Windmill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park right now. The image at left is of another windmill in the park, the Dutch Windmill (thanks to Sarah in the comments below for pointing this out; click on the image for a larger view). Named after Samuel G. Murphy, who donated $20,000 to the city in 1905, the windmill once pumped 70,000 gallons of water an hour into an irrigation system that was instrumental in creating the park from its sand dune base. Over the years the windmill — which is extremely large; the photo below, for comparison (also clickable), is of a windmill in Bruges, Belgium — had fallen into considerable neglect. Fortunately, a civic-minded group known as the Campaign to Save the Golden Gate Park Windmills has rescued the decaying landmark.

You can read about the restoration in a March 2005 San Francisco Chronicle article by Kathleen Sullivan. Here is an excerpt:

Mark de Jong, a 43-year-old Dutch contractor whose speciality in Holland was historic restoration, lives only a couple blocks away from the windmill with his American wife and three children.
“The first time I saw the windmill, I thought: Wow, that needs work,” recalled de Jong, who emigrated in 1994.
De Jong, who comes from the land of 1,000 windmills, was impressed by the size of the building.
“In Holland, windmills are about half that size,” de Jong said….

golden gate park windmill

For another picture of the Bruges windmill, see my blog at rightreading.com.

Port View Park, Oakland

carol at 7th street pier, oaklandThe main feature of Port View Park in Oakland is what locals call the Seventh Street Pier. It’s a popular fishing pier that offers good views of the nearby Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. The Port of Oakland Container Terminal is also nearby — not a bucolic feature, but not without interest since the Port of Oakland is the main Bay Area shipping destination. (San Francisco’s piers are no longer major destinations, except for cruise ships. Because the city is on the tip of a peninsula it is inconvenient for ground shipping, whereas Oakland is well served by train and truck routes.)

In the late 19th century there was an enormous pier near this one called the Long Wharf (it opened in 1871). It reached nearly to Goat Island (Yerba Buena Island). Trains ran out the pier to connect up with sailing ships, a process that was fazed out around WWI.

In September, 2004, the park was in effect expanded with the addition of 38 adjacent acres called Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. I haven’t seen this new addition but according to Waterfront Action it features “spectacular views of the bay and shoreline, shorebirds, nearby maritime operations, San Francisco and Oakland skylines, and marine traffic at the estuary mouth;a dramatic observation tower; picnic and barbeque facilities; parking, restrooms, and water fountains; historical exhibits; an amphitheater; free viewing scopes; fishing pier and platforms; the only beach in Oakland; and nearly three miles of pedestrian and bike paths, some of which are part of the Bay Trail.”

map to middle harbor park

Hangtown Fry

Sometimes in San Francisco one encounters something called a “hangtown fry.” What is it? It’s a sort of omelet composed of oysters, eggs, and bacon. Some say the hangtown fry, which was served in 19th-century gold mining camps (the oysters were transported in barrels of sea water), is the first true California cuisine. It was an expensive meal, a signal that one had struck a rich vein.

The dish gets its name from Placerville, which was known colloquially as Hangtown because it was the site of a famous hanging of outlaws. Recently a Placerville group known as the “Hangtown Fryers” has tried to promote the dish as the official dish of the state of California.

QM2 Arrives in San Francisco

qm2While most of the U.S. was watching the Superbowl, a sizable contingent of San Franciscans congregated at the Golden Gate to welcome the Queen Mary II to the city, a stop on her 81-day world cruise. San Francisco sits aside a giant bay, and it has seen a lot of vessels come and go — several Gold Rush vessels, abandoned by their avaricious crews, make up a portion of the landfill under the Financial District — but the QM2 is the biggest ever to visit the city. In fact, it barely squeezed under the Golden Gate Bridge (with 12 feet to spare). The vessel is four times the height of Telegraph Hill and some 280 feet longer than the Transamerica Pyramid is tall.

Piece and Bits was among the throng of spectators, and she has provided Frisco Vista with some photos. The photo above shows the armada of sailboats that accompanied the ocean liner in its journey into the bay. My favorite picture, however, is the one below. It captures the festive spirit of the San Franciscans who made the visit a cheerful event (and an excuse to enjoy a nice February day by the bay). Thanks, Sista Annie.

qm2

Amy Tan’s San Francisco

amy tanThe Washington Post, as part of a “People We Like and the Places They Love” series, recently ran an interview with Amy Tan on the subject of San Francisco.

The image at left (cropped, somewhat desaturated, and adjusted for highlights and shadows) is from Tan’s official site.

Third Street Rail

3rd street rail mapSF MUNI (Municipal Railway) opened the “T-Third,” its new Third Street light rail line (on weekends only for now, with full service beginning in April) on January 13. (The new service is about a year behind schedule and $120 million over budget.)

In the early 20th century this was a busy streetcar route, so the new line restores a historic aspect of San Francisco. The route runs down the eastern side of the city, past the ballpark and along Third Street through the Bayshore Corridor. The northern end of this route is one of the up-and-coming areas of the city today, with a good mix of funky old buildings and new gentrification that has not yet killed the old flavor.

The 5.6-mile line also runs through some of the city’s poorest (and most isolated) neighborhoods, and it is hoped that improving public transit connections may bring a little help to these areas. As part of the project, Third Street was repaved, and new streetlights were added. Nineteen stations — high platforms similar to those along the Embarcadero along the N-Judah line — were also constructed.

Tamarindo Antojeria

tamarindo, oakland

I had a chance to eat at Tamarindo Antojeria the other day. It’s located 468 8th Street in downtown Oakland. (The nicely restored brick-walled restaurant is in the city’s Old Town district.) Their website is www.tamarindoantojeria.com, and the phone is 510.444.1944.

Although it was a Wednesday the restaurant was very crowded. We arrived early because we were heading for a 7:30 event, so we got a table right away (the one on the left in the picture above), but people who arrived just after us had to wait.

Tamarindo was voted “Best Mexican Restaurant 2006” by the East Bay Express. But it’s not much like most Mexican restaurants. You won’t find massive burritos here. Instead you get alta cocina, a sort of nouvelle cuisine take on creative Mexican cooking. Small, exquisite dishes, reasonably priced. We had the green salad, which was fresh and tasy, and the mole de tamarindo, which was excellent. Our other dish, a chile relleno was fine, if a tad odd with sour cream and cheese and bits of tortillas that were prepared just to the point of beginning to get crisp.

The food is accompanied by a good wine list, although they ding you a bit on the prices, which are a little out of scale with the food. We had beer, and it accompanied the food perfectly.

Record Cold

It’s freezing — literally. Over here in the East Bay we’re looking at a week of lows around or under the freezing mark. I’ve been watering my plants and covering them with plastic at night when I can. But I don’t have enough plastic (or time) for all of them. My fuschias and brugmansias are looking very distressed. I can replace the fuschias since they grow fairly fast (and I think they might come back), but I’d hate to lose the big beautiful brugmansias.

The Bay Area gets frosts occasionally, bt it’s unusually to have such a long duration of frost. We are going to lose a lot of our semi-tropical plants. This is a sad development.

link: Tom’s Garden

Top SF luxury hotels

This is not a class of hotel I generally stay in. If you want to know how the top San Francisco luxury hotels match up, California Travel Experiences is ranking them for value, service, location, reputation, and “frequent stays.” The seven hotels under consideration are Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Saint Regis, Palace Hotel,Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, and W San Francisco. They’ll announce a winner later on.

Visitor Comments

It occurred to me that while there is a place for comments for each of these posts, I didn’t have a place for open-ended comments about this site, its html pages, or its general topics. I could set up a guestbook or a forum, but for now I would rather use the blog format. So this post will serve as an open forum. Please leave your general comments or questions here.

Outdoors in the Bay Area

So far the winter of 2006-207 has been a cool one in the Bay Area. But we got out for a short hike yesterday on Sobrante Ridge, and it was quite pleasant. The trail wasn’t muddy, and the manzanita was in bloom. I’m starting to post some pages on outdoor activities in the Bay Area.

Conrad H. Roth’s SF Photo Essays

Conrad Roth has posted, in two parts, his impressions of the city. Although he calls his posts “photo essays,” there is also plenty of text.

Update: Roth has posted a follow-up on Berkeley

Don’t follow leaders, and watch your parking meters

If you’re driving in San Francisco be aware that the city issues some two million parking tickets a year, contributing something like $85 million to the municipal coffers.

When I was editor-in-chief of Mercury House in its Sansome Street location I had on my wall a prayer to Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the patron saint of parking spaces. (Others have been nominated for this honor, including Saint Jude, Saint Antoine, Saint Therese, and, of course, Saint Rita, but since Mother Cabrini lived out her days in New York City I think she is probably best qualified).

Traffic is the curse of the Bay Area, since the peninsula on which the city sits is small in size and most of the region’s traffic must be funneled over a handful of lanes on a few bridges. (Why will the new Bay Bridge have no more lanes than the old one?)

But parking is nearly as bad a problem. As a result, many people have given up attempting compliance and instead simply rack up hundred of dollars in parking tickets, which they put off paying as long as possible. But now the city is fighting back with cameras, mounted atop unmarked cars, that scan license plates — at a rate of about 250 plates per hour — to find vehicles that have accrued five or more tickets. Once the offending vehicles are located they are quickly fitted with boots that render them undrivable.

***

link: I-80 in East Bay is nation’s 2nd-worst commute
link: chaos and the everyday traffic jam

Pisco

Frisco Pisco

Frisco Pisco (image via Food 52.

Frisco Pisco (image via Food 52.

I once lived for a time in Guapalo, Ecuador, and later traveled around Peru. So I know from pisco. Pisco is a brandy-like drink that Peru claims as its own. Unfortunately for Peru, however, Chile currently produces and exports more pisco than Peru does. (Peruvians scoff at the Chilean product.)

This has led to considerable hard feelings between the nations, but that’s not the story. The story is–and this I didn’t know–that the drink has a strong San Francisco connection. According to this story in the San Francisco Chronicle,

This style of brandy was once the toast of San Francisco, and Pisco Punch, a drink that was created by bartender Duncan Nichol at the Bank Exchange, a bar that used to stand on Montgomery Street, is said to have been the most popular drink in the city in the 1870s. Unfortunately, Nichol took his recipe to the grave.

The Pisco Sour, perhaps the best-known pisco-based drink in America, is said to have been created in 1915 by Victor Morris, a native of Berkeley who owned the Morris Bar in Lima, Peru, and this cocktail, a simple mix of pisco, lime juice, egg white and simple syrup, has made a big comeback in recent years. The secret to a good Pisco Sour is the angostura bitters that are dashed on top of the drink as an aromatic garnish.

Who knew?

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Theater tickets

union square, december 2006
Union Square, Dec. 2006

TIX Bay Area is a good place to buy theater tickets (half price on the day of the show). You can order tickets on-line, or walk up to the box office on Union Square.

Asian Art Museum

I’ve completed a draft of a basic information page on the Asian Art Museum.

I’ll move on now to other San Francisco musuems.

And, of course, the usual Frisco miscellany.

Chicago-style Pizza

Robin Slomkowski blogs about Chicago-style pizzas in San Francisco:

I actually got to have good Chicago Style Pizza in SF at Little Star. I tend to categorize Chicago style Pizza’s into Giordano’s (my favorite), Edwardo’s, Gino’s, and “Modern Chicago Uno’s” (Uno’s is generally credited as the creator of Chicago style pizza, but the chains stores out of Chicago don’t serve the same product, nor does Uno’s in Chicago compared to what it ued to make). Little Star is a pretty good take on Edwardo’s style.

I’m filing this away for future research.

The best deep-dish pizza in the wider San Francisco Bay Area is undoubtedly Zachary’s in Berkeley and Oakland (and now San Ramon, but I haven’t tried that one.

Vesuvio among World’s Best Bars

according to the London Guardian. It ranks Vesuvio number three among the world’s ten best bars. According to the Guardian, the bar “retains its bohemian vibe.”

Next door to City Lights bookstore, Vesuvio boasts Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, and other beat luminaries among its clientele. (But then, what SF bar dating from that era doesn’t?) It hosts readings and art displays in nearby Jack Kerouac Alley. These days it boasts “Eco-Friendly beer, wine and coctails.”

Vesuvio, 255 Columbus Avenue (at Jack Kerouac Alley), San Francisco

Pink Floyd: Darkness over Frisco

Don’t Call It Frisco

pink floyd frisco

There’s a laundromat in the city’s Hayes Valley called the Don’t Call It Frisco Laundromat. The name quotes an admonition you will hear often from a certain generation of locals, who will tell you the word grates like chalk on a blackboard. The taboo started, or at least took hold, in 1953 with the publication of San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen’s first book, entitled, well, Don’t Call it Frisco. Caen is much beloved but the truth is he was a bit of an elitist; he had a dogmatic and imperious streak. (I know — back in the day I sometimes had lunch with his power claque.)

“Not Frisco but San Francisco,” Caen prescribed. “Caress each Spanish syllable, salute our Italian Saint. Don’t say Frisco and don’t say San-Fran-Cis-Co. That’s the way Easterners, like Larry King pronounce it. It’s more like SanfrnSISco.” (No one pointed out that the command to caress each syllable and to elide them was contradictory.)

And a generation of independent and free-spirited San Franciscans meekly complied with the columnist’s mandate. Perhaps they were motivated by the suspicion that their city might not in fact be in the same league with New York City after all, so they sought to sweep their underclass underpinnings under the rug, to turn their back on their rough-and-tumble past.

But there’s a long tradition of calling the city Frisco. (The term frisco, meaning a port where ships could be repaired, goes back to Middle English.) Immigrants during the Gold Rush sang:

I soon shall be in Frisco and there I’ll look around,
When I find the gold lumps there I’ll pick them off the ground.
Oh, California, that’s the life for me . . .

Even in Caen’s day Otis Redding sang that he was leaving his home in Georgia and heading for the Frisco Bay. The Youngbloods sang:

I used to love to watch her dance
That Grizzly Bear
I guess she’s gone to Frisco-o-o
To dance it there

james cagney in the frisco kidThe poet Kenneth Rexroth, another contemporary of Caen’s, called the city Frisco, and the beat poet Bob Kaufman wrote a series of “Frisco” poems. Sal Paradise, Jack Kerouac’s alter ego in On the Road, says he is heading for “Frisco.”

Today a lot of people are looser and less uptight that about the city’s handle than was once the case. There’s a tattoo parlor in the Mission district called Frisco Tattoo. A CD of local bands is called Frisco Styles. The Notorious B.I.G. rapped that he was “Sippin’ Crist-o with some freaks from Frisco.” Columnist Stephanie Salter uses the term Frisco regularly. A Barry Bonds fan t-shirt is emblazoned with the slogan Frisco Grooves.

The local hiphop movement called Yay Area hyphy uses Frisco as a “term of endearment.” For example, Frontline’s Now You Know contains these lyrics:

Wah wha wha wha, thats Oakland
Yee yee yee yee, thats Richmond
Hey, hey, thats Frisco
And if you aint from the bay now yo ass know

Letting go of silly, tight-assed prescriptions like Caen’s is a sign that the city is coming into its own, confident enough in itsself not to have to monitor how people refer to it. Those who disapprove of Frisco are trying to own the city,” says screenwriter Theo McKinney. “People should be able to call the city what they wish.”

Do I call it Frisco? Well, no, not really, except sometimes in fun. Which I hope is the spirit of this site.

So don’t call it Frisco. Or do call it Frisco (but be prepared for some rolled eyes). Or, as some folks do, you could just call it “the ‘Sco.” That way you’re covered — you’re cool.

The choice is yours.

Page 18 of 19

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